The Meth Lab Cleanup Process, Explained

by Sudarsan Chakraborty

Meth means death. In a 2017 survey, 1.6 million Americans reported using meth in the last year. Nearly one million of those people suffered from severe impairments, including health problems. 

Meth manufacture is just as dangerous as meth use. A manufacturer can use any house to cook drugs in, and they can create a dangerous mix of chemicals. When you are considering a home purchase, you should know about meth lab cleanup. 

What are the signs of a meth lab? What is so dangerous about cleaning a lab up? What are the first steps you should take, and what does a service provider do? 

Answer these questions and you can diminish your risk of meth contamination. Here is your quick guide. 

Signs of a Meth House 

The first step for a meth house cleanup is to notice the signs of a meth house. You may find meth residue or equipment in a home, but that isn’t common. 

Odors are perhaps the most common sign of a meth house. Meth production creates scents similar to rotten eggs or vinegar. If you smell these odors as you walk into a house, you should be mindful. 

Unsanitary conditions are another sign. You may notice stains on the carpet or on the walls. You may notice scrapes in the floor from where equipment was dragged around. 

The seller may be looking to sell the property right away. They may offer it for a very low price, or they may have a simple application. 

The house itself may seem fine. But you may notice objects in front of the basement windows. They may have special ventilation systems that run during the wintertime. 

Strange people may be lingering around the property. They may knock on the door and ask for people who aren’t there. They may leave items like needles that indicate drug use. 

When in doubt, ask neighbors about what they have noticed. If they don’t seem to know anything, go to the police station. Crime rates in your local area can be telling, even if no crimes were reported at your house. 

Dangers of Cleaning a Meth Lab 

If your house had or has a meth lab, you may be inclined to clean it yourself. You should not. 

One pound of meth creates six pounds of toxic materials. Chemicals used in meth production include ethanol and benzyl chloride. Inhaling these substances can damage the lungs and throat. 

These same chemicals are flammable. Ethanol mixtures can burn below room temperature, so any electric spark can trigger a devastating fire. 

Many drug manufacturers and dealers set up booby traps in their labs. They may fill a lightbulb with gasoline. When the lightbulb is turned on, it explodes. 

The First Steps of a Meth Lab Cleanup 

You can take a few steps to help with cleanup. Once you’ve found the lab, remain out of it. Do a survey of the area and see if you notice any chemicals or dangerous items. 

Buy a test kit that can examine samples of toxic chemicals. Apply the kit to your common rooms like the kitchen and bedroom.

If your kit tests positive, call a cleanup crew right away. The longer you wait, the more toxic chemicals you will inhale. Tell them where the lab is and how chemicals have distributed from it. 

Do some research into the best companies. Visit websites like and examine what services they promote. But call someone as soon as possible and don’t worry too much about pricing. 

Stay out of your house. Find somewhere else to stay for a few days. If you can’t leave, stay on your upper floors where there is less likelihood of encountering toxic chemicals. 

Turn off the air conditioning system running through your house. This may sound counterintuitive, but your system can distribute toxins. Open doors and windows if you need to cool down. 

You should also disable your electric system, at least where the lab was. Electricity can trigger a fire or booby trap. 

Meth Lab Decontamination

A service provider begins the cleanup by developing a plan. They survey the levels of contamination through the building and determine what protective equipment they need. 

They remove the most toxic objects first. This includes flooring and walling. Once they remove these objects, they ventilate the area using blowers. 

They then apply vacuums to all surfaces. The vacuums contain special filters that remove particles. Once the particles are gone, they clean the surfaces with a detergent wash. 

The provider cleans the air conditioning system and seals it off. The service personnel then conduct a second round of washing. They focus on lighting fixtures and porous surfaces that can attract chemicals. 

They also clean the plumbing system, particularly sinks and drains. Many manufacturers pour toxic substances down them, which can contaminate the water supply. 

Once they have cleaned everything, the personnel perform a test. They look to see if there are any lingering substances. If there are, they clean and ventilate those areas. 

Someone from the government may come to examine the space. It may not meet requirements for occupation, which can result in the property being shut down. 

Stay out of the cleanup crew’s way. The police may ask you questions about the lab, so call a lawyer and prepare for them. But you don’t have to do much while your house is being cleaned. 

The Essentials of Meth Lab Cleanup 

Meth lab cleanup is a complicated process. You can help by noticing the signs of a meth house. These include strange odors and stains. 

Do not clean a lab by yourself. You can ingest toxic chemicals or set off booby traps. 

You should buy a test kit and examine common areas that may have chemicals in them. But stay out of the lab.

Call a cleanup crew as soon as possible. They will clean common surfaces, plumbing, and air conditioning. 

You can stay safe after you learn the truth. Follow our coverage for more real estate and crime guides. 

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